Local Government autonomy, a panacea for grassroots involvement in Nigeria.

Filed under: Democracy & Governance,Political Issues |

local-government-OpinionNigeria

The reasons for the creation of local government anywhere in the world stems from the need to facilitate development at the grassroots. The importance of local government is a function of its ability to generate sense of belongingness, safety and satisfaction among its populace. All forms of political systems have so far ensured the attainment of this goals. Such strategy for ensuring national administrative development and political efficacy is found in the concept and practice of local government. Whatever is the mode of government, local government has been essentially regarded as the path to, and guarantor of, national integration, administration and development.

 In Nigeria’s socio-political context, with multiplicity of culture, diversity of languages and differentiated needs and means, the importance of such an organization in fostering the needed national consciousness, unity and relative uniformity as well as preservation of peculiar diversities is very vital.

Central to the creation of local government, however, is its ability to facilitate an avenue through which government and the people intermix, relate and more quickly than any other means resolve or dissolve issues that may have heated the system. Local government has been perceived as a panacea for the diverse problems of the diverse people with diverse culture.

As important as this tier of government has been, there seems to be some impediments that have been infringing on its performance and functions in recent times. These impediments range from political but undue interference of the higher levels of government (i.e. Federal and State government), bribery and corruption to embezzlement and gross inadequacy of well-trained and qualified personnel.

 The grassroots/rural area constitute good number of human population and as such deserve a flash of democracy from the government, and what better way other than the local council. No public institution in Nigeria has been so subjected to frequent reforms than local government. Every successive administration introduced one administrative change or the other. The introduction of the 1976 reforms by military administration of General Obasanjo brought about uniformity in the administrative system. The reforms introduced a multi-purpose single-tier local government system. The reforms also introduced population criterion under which a local government was created. Consequently, a population of between 150,000 and 800,000 was considered feasible for a local government.

 The 1999 Constitution provided for a democratically elected Local Government Council in section 7 of the Constitution. If the third-tier of government is to achieve the objective which it was established for and washed-off the plethora of problems that has besieged the entire system through the years.

High degree of external influence and intrusion in local government affairs by the higher levels of government. Situations where the state government unconstitutionally dissolves the entire elected council’s officers without proper investigations on spurious allegations is not good for the future of local government administration in the country. Such external influence subverts democratic process and undermines constitutional authority at the grassroots level.

 The major challenge that local government system faces is the political control the State governors has on the local government chairmen. This is because of the fact that State governors sponsors election of most, if not all the chairmen. Handpicked by the State governors rather than being elected. This again creates a diversion of local government council funds for personal use of State governors. In some states, there is this unholy alliance between State governments and local councils in the State, where the allocations to local government are first deposited into a particular ad hoc account before calling for the committee meeting. This in a way paves the way for the State governments to plan for the local government and release the money in installments. The motive behind this is to divert the money to another selfish project. Another thing is the interest that the money will generate in the bank. The implication of this is that few of the local government chairmen who have genuine intentions and are ready to perform are being discouraged. This again assigns more power and control to the State governors. The overall effect of this is the negative impact it has on the people of the grassroots as they are getting more and more alienated from developments

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